Pleco suggestions for a 55 gallon planted tank?

MommyGourami

I'm in the process of planning out my 55 gallon planted tank. It's cycling right now, has lots of driftwood, a sand substrate, and large river rocks, and we're pretty set on having a moonlight gourami or two for the top. What are your favorite plecos for a tank this size? I am new to plecos and have been scoping out that fantastic range of species out there. We'd ideally like a pleco we'd see around the tank (either by night or day) that is compatible with tropical fish temps (around 77-78 degrees F). We were seriously considering something like a Blue Phantom Pleco or a starlight pleco. We like Rubberlip plecos (can't resist the cute-looking face) but I understand they tend to like cooler temps. We love the look of Gold Nugget Plecos but we feel that fish deserves a 75 gallon and wouldn't be totally comfortable keeping him in a 55 long term.

What are you faves? Let's hear 'em!
 

Ouse

My personal instinct would be to use a bristlenose. Reaches six inches, is very easily sought, and the form found in aquaria is beyond requiring any specific water parameters.
 

MommyGourami

I do love bristlenoses! They come in plenty of different colorways, too, and I find the funky eldritch tentacles charming. ;) We might just end up researching a few different 'good fit' species then check out what my LFS has available when we're ready to take one home. They tend to have an excellent selection, but it's good to go prepared.
 

BigManAquatics

A 55 would be a good size to have a male and a couple female bn plecos in to breed as well.
 

awilkinson871

I have a rubberlip in my 55 gallon. The initial plan was for a BN but there havent been many for sale here in the last 6 months. I have had no issues with the temp even though the tank is 78 with the summer going on. I think they have a cute face too...when it comes out so I can see it.
 

kallililly1973

We have a heavily planted 55 with a BN pleco about 5” and a rubberlip about 2” along with a load of other fish and they all do well.
 

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CHJ

I like to keep my plecos a bit over 80f
Plecos care more about filtration than tank size. If you give a pleco a chance it will just live on a zucchini for the rest of its life. I have 2 albinos that were sold to me as sailfin in a 55 and they are quite happy as long as there is food. Had rhinos in the same tank (rhinos are awesome but suffer from food aggression). I'd put sunshines in there.
You already have wood in there so you can include wood eaters.
Plecos tend to like flow in the tank. Odds are your filtration will bring this to the table.

What is your price range?
I'm guessing 1-300$ zebras are out.
L134 at ~100$ are loved by many.
Queen Arabesque ~40$ are good looking.
Mustard Spot ~40$ big pleco looks in a small pleco. Even comes with a lyre tail.
I have not owned a Blue Panaque yet. no idea on cost.
Clown pleco ~20$? I haven't owned one of these.
L397 1-300$ WANT!!!!
Gold Nugget. Should be fine in a 55 just keep the zucchini flowing.
Snowball ~20$ I believe stay small.
Candy stripe ~20$
BN 10-20$
Starlights ~40$
Medusa ~40$
Wabenmuster ~100$ WANT!!
Phantoms ~50$ shop around for cool color morphs.
Para pleco ~60$
Rubber nose ~8$ cute!

You could probably even have an adonis ~20$ or 80$ for albino, in there for 10 years. They grow slow. I have one in a 20 and over the last 2 years it is still smaller than my largest nugget. Then when it out grows the tank sell for $$$. Big adonis cost money because they grow so slow. I'm guessing hysterix work the same though the cost to get in that game is a lot steeper.

Now you want to see the pleco. Plecos are happy when they can hide. You see them when they get to big to hide. You have stressed plecos if there is no cover. The best way to see plecos is to provide food. Some plecos also like to "flop tail" so you can see their tails sticking out of caves.

About the max sizes on plecos. Take them with a wheel barrow of salt. They say Rhinos get to 9" I have had them 50% over that and seen people talking about ones 100% over that. IIRC someone here has a Panaque that is over 3 feet and 3 feet is not their listed max size. I've seen pictures of monster nuggets that no longer look like nuggets Baryancistrus - Wikipedia.
I wouldn't worry about this if you live near a population center as there are lots of people with big tanks who will gladly hand you a pile of cash for a huge pleco* that saves them 20 years of growing it out.

Now all that out of the way, with nothing else known, if I had to recommend 1 pleco to you I'd go for Mustard Spot. Great looking, get all armored looking then they grow up. Cool lyre tail without Adonis size issues. They get nice and wide and develop nice odontodes. Wood eaters. Here as some Mustard Spot pics starting with the purchase pic and then going to recent pics. There is a large bulldog clip for spinach to give you scale.


*huge common plecos don't count as it doesn't take long to get them big. Though I'd guess if you have a 3 footer you can get a few bucks for it.
 

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TheAnglerAquarist

A rarer, more colorful bristlenose should be to die for!
 

Motherlovebetta

Clowns are known to hide, but mine begs when he sees the other fish feeding. You could get a couple of them in a 55g though. Other smaller ones L333-king tiger also known as imperial tiger I think they just had one at the LFS it was beautiful. I have leopard frog and they only get to 4” supposedly mine are only about 2” now, got 3 shipped for $100. I think you will enjoy whichever one you decide on.
 

Noroomforshoe

leopard bristlenose are great, Im a sucker for spots. My leopard died last year after 5-6 years. She was about 4 inches.
I had a clown pleco that was just over one inch long, a runt of a dwarf species I guess, he lived for 11 years with much more active tank mates. I would see him anytime I sat in front of the tank for a minute or so, miss the little guy!
 

MommyGourami

I like to keep my plecos a bit over 80f
Plecos care more about filtration than tank size. If you give a pleco a chance it will just live on a zucchini for the rest of its life. I have 2 albinos that were sold to me as sailfin in a 55 and they are quite happy as long as there is food. Had rhinos in the same tank (rhinos are awesome but suffer from food aggression). I'd put sunshines in there.
You already have wood in there so you can include wood eaters.
Plecos tend to like flow in the tank. Odds are your filtration will bring this to the table.

What is your price range?
I'm guessing 1-300$ zebras are out.
L134 at ~100$ are loved by many.
Queen Arabesque ~40$ are good looking.
Mustard Spot ~40$ big pleco looks in a small pleco. Even comes with a lyre tail.
I have not owned a Blue Panaque yet. no idea on cost.
Clown pleco ~20$? I haven't owned one of these.
L397 1-300$ WANT!!!!
Gold Nugget. Should be fine in a 55 just keep the zucchini flowing.
Snowball ~20$ I believe stay small.
Candy stripe ~20$
BN 10-20$
Starlights ~40$
Medusa ~40$
Wabenmuster ~100$ WANT!!
Phantoms ~50$ shop around for cool color morphs.
Para pleco ~60$
Rubber nose ~8$ cute!

You could probably even have an adonis ~20$ or 80$ for albino, in there for 10 years. They grow slow. I have one in a 20 and over the last 2 years it is still smaller than my largest nugget. Then when it out grows the tank sell for $$$. Big adonis cost money because they grow so slow. I'm guessing hysterix work the same though the cost to get in that game is a lot steeper.

Now you want to see the pleco. Plecos are happy when they can hide. You see them when they get to big to hide. You have stressed plecos if there is no cover. The best way to see plecos is to provide food. Some plecos also like to "flop tail" so you can see their tails sticking out of caves.

About the max sizes on plecos. Take them with a wheel barrow of salt. They say Rhinos get to 9" I have had them 50% over that and seen people talking about ones 100% over that. IIRC someone here has a Panaque that is over 3 feet and 3 feet is not their listed max size. I've seen pictures of monster nuggets that no longer look like nuggets Baryancistrus - Wikipedia.
I wouldn't worry about this if you live near a population center as there are lots of people with big tanks who will gladly hand you a pile of cash for a huge pleco* that saves them 20 years of growing it out.

Now all that out of the way, with nothing else known, if I had to recommend 1 pleco to you I'd go for Mustard Spot. Great looking, get all armored looking then they grow up. Cool lyre tail without Adonis size issues. They get nice and wide and develop nice odontodes. Wood eaters. Here as some Mustard Spot pics starting with the purchase pic and then going to recent pics. There is a large bulldog clip for spinach to give you scale.


*huge common plecos don't count as it doesn't take long to get them big. Though I'd guess if you have a 3 footer you can get a few bucks for it.
This is EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much for all this info. I will be providing hides in addition to the plants, rockwork, and wood in the tanks. I use a Fluval 407 canister filter with a spray bar, and I also have a powerhead I can hook up if additional flow is wanted. :) LOVE your pics of the Mustard Spot pleco! I'm sure I'll end up happy with whatever I choose. I think Plecos of all kinds are really adorable, and even if they hide most of the day, so long as I see them once in awhile and know they're getting fed I'll be happy.
 

Linda1234

First decide if you want an algae or meat eater. Anyway a few not mentioned by other people:

L204 (fairly inexpensive but sometime difficult to fine - i picked one up at petco for $15); my favorite. They love wood in addition to algae - a little shyer than bn but will come up to the front and let you take pictures if you ask nicely.

L333 - a nice pleco but look for a white one as they are a bit nicer than the yellow. Mine mostly hides in his coconut shell but sticks his nose out a bit.

L397 - expensive little devil otherwise like L204.

There is a mega clown pleco which is rather different than clown pleco but similar size.
-
I'm not a big fan of BN pleco but if you must get one my favorite are the lemon blue-eye.
 

Flyfisha

A bristle nose pleco gets my vote every time. I would not put a male and female together or they will breed. A mature female will have over 150 eggs in her every month or so.
 

CHJ

Also if you are not planning to breed do not add caves. Instead of caves make sure there are plenty of other places to hide like driftwood and that every place has an entrance and an exit.
The reason is that plecos will use caves to kill other plecos. With something like an L134 they pin them in and strip all the scales off the body of the victim. With something that seems to have planned ahead for this like a cactus, they chew off the fins instead of going to the spiny body.
 

Motherlovebetta

With something like an L134 they pin them in and strip all the scales off the body of the victim.
Removing caves from my tank with 134s right now! :eek:
 

CHJ

Removing caves from my tank with 134s right now! :eek:
Over the years I'd say I have lost 10 L134s to cave kills. I'm trying to breed so it is a risk. I suppose I could move from colony style breeding to 1M and 2F breeding if I want figure out which ones are male.

If the other male stays to fight to the death, having exists doesn't help. I haven't seen this with L134s. I did lose a cactus to this. When I hauled him to the hospital tank he was still trying to go back and fight. A betta attitude is not good for fish.
 

MommyGourami

I'm only planning to get one pleco for my 55, so breeding or aggression with one another shouldn't be a problem. :) The only cave I have right now is a pot, plus lots of driftwood and smooth rockwork. My thicklip gouramis are clearing quarantine this weekend, and I'll be heading to the LFS to check out their current pleco selection. They have an amazing selection. I've regularly seen flash plecos and leopard frogs!

I'll go with a list of species that I like and see who looks best from what they have. Thanks for the help!
 

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